We help congregations survive and thrive in challenging times through data-grounded discernment.
The Congregational Vitality Assessment (CVA) is a ground-breaking free research-based, online diagnostic tool designed to provide a congregation with an assessment of its Vitality (how healthy it is) and its Sustainability (whether it has the people, financial, and contextual resources necessary to survive). The CVA ground-breaking
CVA Single Congregation Version is free. It can be completed by a single congregational leader or a representative congregational leadership group (the latter is preferred).
The CVA measures ten areas of congregational vitality, including: (1) Vision, Mission, and Discernment, (2) Lay Engagement and Empowerment, (3) Context Awareness and Inclusion, (4) Change Readiness, (5) Dealing with Differences and Conflict, (6) Spiritual Life and Worship, (7) Formation, Education, and Training, (8) Outreach, (9) Leadership and Organization, and (10) Stewardship. It also measure internal and external congregational sustainability.
The CVA Single Congregation Version is made available free of charge to congregations of all denominations and religions by a partnership between The FaithX Project and the Episcopal Church Foundation.
Also available on a ssubscription basis it the CVA Judicatory Platform, a customized dashboard through which a judicatory can directly administer the CVA to each of its congregations, receive anonymized results (including supplemental, non-scored questions), and monitor their results over time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Congregational Vitality Assessment (CVA)
What is the purpose/benefits of the Congregational Vitality Assessment (or CVA)?
The Congregational Vitality Assessment is designed to help a congregation:
- Diagnose its Vitality and Sustainability
- Identify its strengths and weaknesses
- Develop and prioritize strategies to address them
What is the difference between a congregation’s Vitality and its Sustainability?
Sustainability: Does the congregation have the people, financial, and contextual resources necessary to survive and thrive?
What elements of Vitality does the CVA measure?
The CVA measures how effectively a congregation is carrying out ten vital areas of congregational functioning:
- Vision, Mission, & Discernment
- Lay Engagement & Empowerment
- Context Awareness & Inclusion
- Change Readiness
- Dealing with Differences/Conflict
- Spiritual Life & Worship
- Formation, Education, & Training
- Leadership & Organization
What elements of Sustainability does the CVA measure?
The CVA measures two important aspects of congregational functioning:
- Internal Sustainability: Whether the congregation has sufficient internal resources (people, financial, and other) to survive, thrive, and carry out its mission.
- External Sustainability: Whether the neighborhoods the congregations serves have sufficient resources (people, financial, and other) to sustain a typical congregation.
How is the CVA best administered (what are best practices)?
We do not recommend administering the CVA to the entire congregation, as it tends to skew the results in several ways: not just regression to the mean, but because a congregation-wide administration of the CVA generally results in a non-representative sample: more Boomers and older GenX-ers and fewer Millennials and GenZ-ers, more insiders and fewer newcomers, fewer financially challenged people, etc.
To determine what your representative sample should look like: (a) study the makeup of your congregation, (b) start with a core group composed of vestry, committee chair, and committee members as the core of the group, (c) then determine which groups are under-represented and invite them, (d) make sure each person gets a personal invitation from a member of leadership explaining why you need their input specifically.
What makes the CVA unique?
Why are FaithX and ECF making the CVA available free? Are there any strings attached?
What kind of questions does the CVA ask? What do the answers look like?
What do CVA results look like?
How should we interpret our congregations scores?
What are research sources on which the CVA is grounded?
Why does the CVA give rate lower congregations that have an endowment and use it for operating expenses? What’s wrong with that?
How often is the CVA updated based on new research and user feedback?
The CVA is updated at the end of any year in which vitality-related research is newly released or user feedback results in changes. For example, user feedback as so far led to:
- CVA Version 2.O (release date: mid-July): redesigned user interface, added section on “External Sustainability,” back-end improvements to support research and benchmarking, bug fixes.
- CVA Judicatory Version (launch date: mid-July): developed at request of multiple users, a subscription-based customized dashboard that allows, dioceses, synods, districts, and other judicatory bodies to administer the CVA to their congregations, add supplemental (non-rated) questions of their own, and have access to summarized results from all of their congregations.
- CVA Version 2.1 (release date: Sept 2021): Spanish-language option, vitality improvement resources linked to scores/recommendations, new denomination-specific options.
We invite our users to notify us of new research or ideas for improvement at this address: [email protected].
What should our congregation do after taking the CVA?
There are several things a congregation can do after taking the CVA. These include:
- Review CVA results and recommendations with congregational leadership and with the congregation. Identify your congregation’s 2-3 areas of greatest vitality strength and 2-3 areas of greatest vitality weakness.
- Conduct a demographic assessment of the missional opportunities and challenges in community your congregation serves. Identify the 2-3 greatest missional opportunities and the 2-3 greatest missional challenges.
- Find consensus around greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. Select 1-2 of each.
Identify the areas of congregational vitality strength that you can leverage to effectively engage missional opportunities and challenges in the community, and to effectively address areas of congregational vitality weakness.
Identify strategies to engage identified community opportunities and challenges, and address identified areas of vitality.
- Determine which strategies you feel capable pursuing yourselves and which you might need help with.
Implement strategies. Start small, experiment, build on successes.
The above process is what we call a Missional Assessment. You can do it yourselves or you can engage FaithX to lead you through it (we meet with your congregational leader in four sessions over a 6-8 week period to guide you through the process).
Contact us at [email protected] for more information or to schedule a free 30-min discussion to weigh your alternatives.